Editing or retouching – is it the same? What is and isn’t included in your service

When running my business and serving my clients I always have one simple rule in mind – offer the kind of service I would be happy with as a client.  It wouldn’t be fair offering and charging for something that I wouldn’t be happy to book myself.

Bearing this in mind, I always try not only take and deliver beautiful photographs, but also offer advice, information and help my clients get the clearest possible idea of how we will be working together. I want my clients to understand the type of work I do for them and show a bit of ‚behind the scenes’.

Recently, I felt there has been one issue which I possibly have not covered extensively before and now is the time to fix it.

Editing vs retouching – is it the same?

As part of my photography service I pledge to deliver ‚hand edited images’ however this is obvious and self explanatory if you are maybe in the photography industry. Not so much if you are a client who doesn’t use the technical jargon, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain:

  • what is editing
  • what’s included in studio / location / event photography editing in my packages
  • what is retouching
  • additional charges for enhanced retouching – why and how much

EDITING is the process where raw images that are saved on a SD card, then converted into a .jpg file. In the process they are enhanced and given a final look. This includes exposure adjustment (brightening or darkening), cropping, straightening, colour correction (saturation etc), sharpness, contrast plus any other artistic enhancement which are in line with my style. Example of editing can be found below

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As you can see, contrast, sharpness, vibrance and other features have been enhanced. Parts of the image have been brightened, others darkened to give it a beautiful 3-dimentional look. This is the process your images go through before they are presented to you as final edits.

What’s included in my editing process?

For location shoots all the above steps are included as standard artistic editing.

For studio shoots (newborns) the editing process is much more tedious and includes many steps.

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To give your baby’s images the beautiful final look, here is what I normally do:

  • merge multiple images which are taken to keep your baby’s safety (head is supported at all times and different takes are merged into one)
  • baby’s skin blemishes, spots, flakes, discolouration (redness, jaundice, purple skin) are corrected to give baby’s skin nice warm smooth look
  • extending missing backdrop (in family portraits too)
  • colour corrections etc. includig shadows etc.
  • entending backdrop for images on beanbag and family portraits

For lifestyle, event and commercial shoots (wedding, first communion, branding photography etc.) the following stages are included:

  • exposure adjustment (brightening or darkening), cropping, colour correction (saturation etc), sharpness, contrast plus any other artistic enhancement which are in line with my style.
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What is understood by retouching is extensive editing which goes beyond the steps listed above. This includes and is not exclusive to the following examples*:

– skin retouching, body posture enhancements (slimming face, arms, body),

– teeth whitening, removing skin blemishes, adding fake lashes, adding make up, fixing facial features, removing stains on faces (ones which can be fixed at a shoot), removing food  etc off kids faces where they can be fixed at a shoot, removing tattoos, opening eyes, adding smiles, head swapping, nail painting, removing nail varnish, removing leg hair, removing facial hair, hair colouring (including roots) , removing / adding hair extensions, taking socks off, removing logos off clothing, turning around necklace / earring, removing dirt / mud off clothing, removing dummy, toys, phones or tablets, removing double chins (or other significant modifications which change the appearance of model), fixing tan lines, replacing sunglasses with clear glasses, etc.

-„making you look younger” or „making me look 20 pounds lighter”

These are all actual real requests that I have either received myself or know others have made to their photographer.

– fixing squint or light glare in images (every effort will be taken to ensure this is avoided at shoot)

– clothing imperfections (smoothing clothing, ironing, removing stains, colour replacement)

– adding or removing objects or individuals

– changing background or other items colour, unless previously agreed on. Once you accept the background or prop colour in a shoot it can only be changed in editing for an additional fee. Where you request a specific colour and I do not have it available, colour replacement will be offered free of charge.

– anything else that you feel ‚can be done in Photoshop‚ falls into this category. Please take some time preparing for your shoot, making sure your outfits are nicely ironed and matching the style. Also, please make sure your make up, nails and hair are all done to a standard that you are happy with. Avoid booking colouring or cuts just hours before the shoot as sometimes things go not as planned and once images are taken there is no going back.

*In some cases, where these are easily achievable, I may do them as part of my standard editing, however this is discretionary.

Additional charges for enhanced retouching explained

The above listed retouching steps are not included as a standard service and the reason for that is the time and advanced skills they require, but also the fact that they can be easily prevented.

You may know that I am skilled in all the above and have done them hundreds of times. So why am I saying they are not included?

The answer is simple – because retouching is a seperate service from editing. Editing is necessary to ‚develop’ a raw image into a high resolution file. Retouching, on the other hand, is another name for ‚enhanced digital manipulation’ and people called ‚retouchers’ are skilled in this area hence the outsourcing.

When you go to a hairdresser for a cut you surely don’t expect to get a colour as a complimentary add on, even though your hair stylist is more than capable of performing them. If you require extra service, you need to be prepared to pay extra. And the same goes for enhanced retouching which is a more complex, advanced and time consuming service.

To increase my efficiency and time management I have made a decision to forward any requests for advanced / enhanced retouching to a professional retouching service and these are charged at 5GBP per image (this is what I pay external retouchers, I don’t make any money out of it, just to put your mind at ease).

This post is meant to work as an educational tool, to help you get a better, clearer idea what you can expect my work to include. The most important thing is – my final edits are always executed in line with my personal artistic style. If in doubt about anything, it is best to chat to me. I am also happy to help 🙂